December 5, 2010
People in stores and shopping malls demonstrate interesting behaviors, many of which appear much the same from year to year. However, each year the advertising ploys designed to capture the interest (and money) of these potential customers change. While the goal (to sell) remains the same, the method of attracting attention changes--novelty to catch the potential buyer's eye, then the "new carrot" to encourage sales. Exposed to this process, the wise customer continues, however, to read the fine print. "Let the buyer beware," may be old advice, but it remains good advice none the less. Besides, the fine print is often quite interesting.
This year I've been struck by the increasing numbers of toy boxes (both for adult toys and toys for children) on which the cover of the box pictures the toy it contains in action, performing some amazing feat flawlessly, effortlessly. The small print, however, advises: batteries not included.
At first, when I thought about that particular fine print, the whole process seemed odd somehow. There seemed some measure of absurdity in presenting an object as valuable enough to buy while, at the same time, the seller advises (albeit in small letters) that the object is useless unless the buyer supplies the necessary energy to enable it to function.
On second thought, I found myself thinking about change (surprised?) and the way in which our willingness to supply the necessary energy is an essential component. Some things in life as in toy stores simply aren't designed to work unless we supply the batteries.
Somewhere in a book I read as a child there was a story of a shepherd who heard the angels sing, but argued with his fellow shepherds when they decided to go into Bethlehem to see if indeed there was a baby in the manger as the angels had told them. This shepherd said something like this: "It's cold, and I'm tired, and you are silly to go all that distance in the dark to see a baby. Go if you want to be so silly, but I'm staying here and sleeping. You'll be sorry tomorrow when it's time to move the sheep. You'll wish you too had gone to bed."
In the story, of course, it was the shepherd who stayed behind that became forever regretful. As I remember it, the story closed with the shepherd, now old, telling his grandson sadly, "It was not too far to the village. I could have walked there. I don't know now why I didn't go."
Immanuel born--God come to be with us--God to be seen in human form in Bethlehem barn!!!
Advent now as then offers us the excitement of discovery and new knowledge of God. While in God's generosity the option is freely offered, the energy to enter into the process remains our choice. The opportunity for change is there--however, the potential participant should be advised: energy needed: batteries are not supplied.
Where are you investing your energy this Advent season?
Risking with you the wise tiredness from walking once more to see that Baby's face.
See you next week.
PS The five interviews I did with Haddon Robinson and Alice Mathews on RBC will be aired Dec. 27-30. You can find your local radio stations that will carry these by contacting Katy Pent at Discovery House Publishers. Will try to give you a direct link to RBC Ministries next week. I found Haddon and Alice to be delightful hosts, and insightful about More Than An Aspirin. No author can ask for more than that. Hope you will listen in.